Exeter Public Schools Superintendent Tim Hall says the District will likely seek voter approval for a funding bond to appear on the ballot during the November 2016 election.
“There was an initial discussion about that,” with the Exeter Unified School District Board, Hall said. “What we did was hire a consulting firm to determine how much money we could raise in a general obligation bond election, and to see what our community would like for its tax dollars.”
The survey results, being prepared by the firm Isom Advisors, are not in yet. They should be complete this week, and they’re due to be reported to the board next week, Hall said. He believes it likely the Board will OK asking voters to raise their taxes. How much they’ll ask for has yet to be determined.
“I think the level of interest is high (among board members),” Hall said. “Otherwise, I don’t think they would initiate a survey in the community. There are some big ticket items on our agenda. One of them is replacing electronic items, iPads, computers, things like that.”
Buying more electronic devices for students is the continuation of a District policy set in motion this school year. EUSD is trying to put a tablet, laptop or other similar device in the hands of each of its approximately 3,000 students.
“Some of the money would be set apart for our one-to-one electronic device policy,” Hall said. “There will be an electronic device in every classroom for every kid.”
One Kid, One Computer
The District hopes to reach its goal of 100% saturation within three years of beginning the effort. This is first year.
“What we did was put enough devices in each classroom so each student could have access to them,” Hall said.
Purchasing additional devices is just one of two big projects Hall said may be funded by a possible bond issue.
“The other one is our all-weather track at the stadium is just about worn out,” he said. “We’ve repaired it and patched it, and patched it and patched it. It’s time to replace it.”
The board may also wish to fund some construction with the money.
“We’d like to do some creative things, like putting in solar that could create saving for the District that we could put into other programs,” Hall said. “We would like to get rid of some of the portable classrooms and put permanent buildings in their place.”
The Bang-Per-Buck Ratio
While those are some of the items on the District’s wish list, the board needs to know what kind of bang the people paying the bill want for their bucks.
“What does our community see as the needs of our school district, as well?” Hall said of the survey.
He also hopes they share his desire to modernize the District’s campuses.
“There are some things,” he said about his own wish list. “It would be nice to get rid of some older, rundown portable classrooms, create a more modern educational setting.”
Since the District extended its drama program to students through the third grade, Hall says expanded facilities are needed on the two elementary campuses. The band room at Wilson Middle School has also hit its carrying capacity, and should be expanded to meet the needs of a growing student population. At the high school, Hall says it’s time to build a better weight room.
“With more kids participating in athletics and bringing on a physical trainer a few years ago, it would be nice to have a facility for them,” Hall said.
Next Move at Next Meeting
How much the District will seek or if it will seek anything at all will be decided once the board has reviewed the survey results at its June meeting. That meeting is scheduled for 5pm, Wednesday, June 15 at the Crespi Center Board Room, 215 N. Crespi Ave.
“We’ll come up with a potential dollar figure that could be raised,” Hall said. “If all those factors [covered by the survey] are good, I imagine the board will move forward with an action item. The goal is, if all the stars are in line and we get the info we hope to get, I think November.”
Meanwhile, things are generally going well in Exeter’s classrooms.
“Early indications are our assessment results will be up from last year,” he said. “Lots of kids involved in everything from Mock Trial to athletics to Science Olympiad.”
Increasing participation even further is one of the goals they hope to serve with additional bond funding, should voters give it the nod.
“We know that when we connect kids to the schools, they do better,” Hall said.